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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 19, 2010

US Digital Pay TV Operators Suffer Second Consecutive Quarter of Sub Losses

By Jai C.S., TMCnet Contributor

Strategy Analytics, a provider of market intelligence focused on opportunities and disruptive forces in the areas of Automotive Electronics and Entertainment, Broadband Connected Home, Mobile and Wireless Intelligent Systems and Virtual Worlds, unveiled its latest report, which indicates that US Digital Pay TV operators suffer second consecutive quarter of sub losses.

The report, “Digital Television Operator Performance Benchmarking: North America Q3’10,” summarizes quarterly subscriber growth trends for the 19 leading Digital Pay TV Operators operating in the United States and Canada.

Report indicates, for the second quarter in a row, North American digital pay TV operators added fewer subscribers than in the preceding period. Comcast (News - Alert) is reported to have added only 219,000 new digital subs in the third quarter, which is noted as a sharp decrease from Q2 adds of 394,000. Satellite operator Dish also is said to have reported subscriber losses in its second consecutive quarter which a decrease of 29,000 for the period.

The extent to which net additional subscriber declines are attributable to economic malaise, seasonality or “cord cutting” is still being debated. However, survey research recently fielded by Strategy Analytics (News - Alert) shows that 13 percent of current U.S. pay TV subscribers intend to drop their pay TV service in the next 12 months, and not replace it with another.

“If two quarters of subscriber losses is a trend, would three be a pattern?” asked Ben Piper, director in the Strategy Analytics Digital Consumer Practice. “Our research suggests that cord cutting is fast becoming a reality, and now the operator numbers bear that out,” Piper added.

AT&T (News - Alert) is said to have reported 235,000 new pay TV subscribers in the quarter, driven by expanded deployment of its U-Verse IPTV offering. More than 90 percent of U-verse TV customers bundle High Speed Internet, and 75 percent of U-verse TV customers have a triple- or quad-play. Verizon is also said to have added 204,000 new FiOS (News - Alert) TV subscribers in the quarter, which is reported to be a 7 percent sequential improvement.

In addition to tracking subscribers, market shares and selected financial metrics, Strategy Analytics report, “Digital Television Operator Performance Benchmarking: North America Q3’10,” also provides operator-level subscriber forecasts for 2011. This report also contains a flat file of all data, allowing clients to create customized pivot tables.

Jai C.S. is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Jai's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard